Quinton Jackson’s exit after a fairly one-sided decision loss to Glover Teixiera was telling to his future plans within the company.
“He just walked out and screamed, ‘You’re gonna miss me!'” UFC president Dana White relayed to the media after the UFC on Fox 6 card. “I said, ‘I miss you already, buddy.'”
Dana White seemed flustered by Jackson at the press conference, lavishing him with praise and saying that he didn’t know whether or not they’d resign the Pride stalwart and former UFC light heavyweight champion. Jackson, on a three fight losing streak as well, spoke openly about fighting elsewhere or even boxing after his stint in the UFC is done in the months leading up to his fight with Glover Teixiera. Jackson came into the fight in great shape and fought well, of course, but his time at the top seems to be limited.
With his third loss it feels appropriate that he’d be gone from the UFC, of course, and Rampage leaving of his own accord marked a significant moment in his career. And it could lead to one final run towards the top of the UFC, or at least close to it.
At this point right now Jackson has to be considered as “damaged goods” by any promoter looking to promote him domestically as a fighter. He’s lost three in a row, and lost badly, to three top fighters and the final one was on a massive audience. You can’t promote him as an elite fighter anymore but he has it in him to be that way again. He just needs to find that inner something he lost in the UFC, where he was more concerned about being exciting than winning.
Simply put Jackson can use promotions like the World Series of Fighting and One FC to rebuild his reputation before returning to either the UFC or Bellator. Don’t count out Rampage doing what Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal has done and fight for Bellator and do pro wrestling, as well, but the key for Jackson is to get onto other winning streak.
Outside of Lawal and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson the best light heavyweights in the world are in the UFC, en masse, and as such the competition out there isn’t going to be what he’d face in the UFC. Fighting over in Asia, where he’s still a star, he could get favorable matchups that play to his strengths and away from his weaknesses. One of the perks of being on the regional scene is that you can pick your spots and Jackson can avoid anyone with significant takedown abilities for as long as he desires.
With a couple of wins, especially some via knockout, Jackson can find that momentum he once had in his career. And fighting elsewhere Jackson might be good for him mentally; the one thing you could see in “Rampage” for the past year is that he hasn’t been all that happy. He didn’t want to be in the UFC and his behaviors such as releasing a comedy video where he discussed proper, ahem, “seduction” techniques went over like a fart in church.
A happy Jackson is when he’s been at his best and maybe some time away from the spotlight, fighting under another banner without nearly as much attention, could do wonders for him. Maybe even taking that boxing match he’s long since discussed could be good for him, too. With a couple of wins under his belt, even if it’s against suspect competition, we could see Jackson’s unhinged potential come out for a brief moment. He’s still one of the 10 best light heavyweights in the world, even if he’s closer to 10 than to top position than at any point in his career, and a year or less away from Zuffa could be exactly what he needs.
The UFC doesn’t need “Rampage” in its ranks … and “Rampage” doesn’t need Zuffa at this moment in his career, either. But maybe a trial separation, like a couple who needs some space but doesn’t want to be officially divorced, could be in order. Quinton Jackson deserves to finish his career in the UFC and the UFC deserves to hold the last bout of “Rampage” in combat sports.